Birmingham hospital trials 'comfortable' prosthetic leg
A hospital in Birmingham is trialling a type of prosthetic leg designed to reduce discomfort for amputees.
The operation involves inserting a metal socket into a person's bone so a prosthetic leg can be clipped on.
The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital said it was designed to enable soft tissues to grow into the implant to stabilise it.
This would avoid "rubbing, soreness and sweating", according to the hospital. Manufacturers Stanmore Implants said its aim was to mimic deer antler bone.
A spokesman said: "Deer antler bone is porous under the skin which allows the soft tissues to grow into the holes and stabilise the soft tissue around the antler."
Michael Lloyd, of Kington in Herefordshire, who is among 16 patients to have the new device fitted as part of a clinical trial, said it had "revolutionised" his life.
He had his left leg amputated above the knee 34 years ago after suffering bone cancer.
It's very early days. So far only 16 UK patients have had this particular implant and there were significant problems with infection in the first few patients.
Now, using silver technology and keeping patients immobile ten days after an operation, it's hoped that they have overcome that infection risk.
It is thought that in future this implant could improve the performance of Paralympic athletes.
Indeed, Professor Robert Grimer at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital believes that there is exciting potential in using this type of implant with the next generation of moving "bionic" artificial limbs.
His old prosthetic leg was held in place using suction, which would become uncomfortable after exercising or walking long distances, said Mr Lloyd.
"It would start to rub and I would sweat which would cause abrasions around the ends of my stump," he said.
"It meant I would have days not wearing my leg because it would be too uncomfortable.
"This is attached directly to the bone so it does away with all of that and it means I can walk for miles each day."
Mr Lloyd said the implant had also enabled him to drive vehicles with a manual gearbox because he could "feel the clutch bite."
The hospital said it hoped the new limb could also be used to improve performances of Paralympic athletes if the clinical trial was successful.
Professor Rob Grimer said some patients had suffered infections while using the implant so a silver coating was now being applied in an attempt to prevent this.
He said: "The bone and skin grow onto the implant which works like a tooth implant.
"We hope that the use of silver will help reduce the infection risk, so that the trial can be successfully completed."